Freight Insights for December 2021

Freight Insights for December 2021


The following insights are taken from a monthly discussion between Sunset’s nine US/MX branches.

Trends and discussions range from seasonal manufacturing and agriculture trends that affect available capacity to general insight into outside factors affecting freight volumes.

Below is a summary of the December call:


DOMESTIC

Fuel

  • Fuel prices dipped and should level for the few remaining weeks of the year.
  • Government intervention with pipeline supply has been one factor that changed the trajectory of the fuel trendline.
  • Warmer than expected temperatures across most of the U.S. is keeping energy consumption reduced and supply heightened.
  • Prices are expected to rise in 2022 due to worldwide supply and demand concerns, but will not likely start impacting costs until the summer.

Capacity

  • Driver and equipment shortages take top ranks for transportation concerns going into 2022.
  • COVID-19 requirements on companies with over 100 employees effective 1/4/2022 is putting a spotlight on concerns with exception testing and tracking, along with financial responsibilities. New vaccine policies under federal mandates are creating a projection of 1/3 of the drivers in the industry to quit or shut down until the policy is changed.
  • Warehouse open capacity is at a historical low, driving two areas for focus; automation and modification to current operations. Shifting resources and budget, along with streamlining or eliminating services offered at a site will be key to growth.

Demand

  • Transportation Infrastructure Bill has been pushed off into 2002, with estimates reaching out as far as March before Legislation takes another review of the materials
  • The double-digit percentage increase in November left home construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.68 million units, an 8.3% increase from the rate at this time last year“, the Commerce Department reported Dec. 16.
  • COVID-19 concerns spike as we enter winter with millions in critical medical supplies being delayed at congested ports.
  • Inflation spikes in wholesale prices with close to a 10% rise YOY due to economic and inflationary pressures.
  • Manufacturing is recognizing a reduction in inbound constraints and raw materials commodity pricing leading into the end of the year.
  • Behind significant storms and damage caused in the past couple of weeks, there is an increased need for hot shots and expedite freight for necessity items along storm path.

Service/Cost

  • As new data surfaces, disruption and supply bottlenecks likely to last into late 2022.
  • Expect commodity cost increases through end of year to range between +4-7%.
  • Expect transportation average costs to increase between +9-11%.

INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

  • Dry Van – tender volumes remain lower y/y, but carriers are still dictating the transportation costs, keeping them high.  Load rejection percentage and rates are expected to trend upward over the next two weeks in combination with vacations, expedite demand, and holiday capacity reductions. 
  • Reefer – tender volumes remain steady y/y and m/m entering into the winter months. Given higher average temperatures across the U.S., the spike trended was able to balance out with supply keeping the prices and capacity level and changing the trend line to flat for the remainder of the year.
  • Flatbed – warmer temperatures are driving a late construction season for the market and is keeping the demand high.  Home repairs after heavy storm hit areas will put additional pressure on the group as purchasing of raw materials and home/business rebuilding comes in higher over the next 6 months.

Industry data is pulled and summarized weekly from key proprietors and industry experts using multiple publications and sources. Sources include, but not limited to: Cass Transportation Index, DAT, Journal of Commerce (JOC), PYMNTS, NRF, Cleveland Research. The information is discussed with Sunset Managing Directors and validated prior to publication of summary data in this posting.


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